Oh hey there, friendly readers. I feel like we know each other pretty well by now. I mean, we’ve talked about the time I was probed. We’ve discussed my failures as a human (i.e. being unable to properly identify a cucumber). You know that I eat baguettes like a great white shark.
We’re buddies. Pals.
Or, at the very least, I am that weird aunt who over-shares at family dinners after getting into the sherry, and you are my sad niece who somehow got stuck at the dinner table with me after everyone else fled “to do the dishes.”
That’s why I feel comfortable telling you this hard truth about living with a bowel-munching disease: You get well-acquainted with stool samples.
Okay. Are you still with me? Did we all survive that brush with the ever-uncomfortable truth?
Now, brace yourselves, people. Auntie RG is dipping into the sherry, again.
There are five steps to the ISS (Infamous Stool Sample, for your reference).
1) The Existential Anxiety (i.e. “Who am I”/“What has my life become?”-type questions, followed by rocking back and forth on the bathroom floor for an extended period of time/until your sister knocks on the door and yells that she has “to use the shower, goddamnit!”)
2) The Dirty Deed. If you need any further information on Step 2, a) I am concerned for you, and b) I recommend this helpful guide for future use:
3) The Transport. You must carry the product of the Dirty Deed (stuffed in a paper bag, wrapped in a plastic bag, wrapped in a plastic bag, wrapped in a plastic bag, wrapped in yet another plastic bag) to the lab and hope that you’re giving off the ‘casual/cool’ vibe, rather than the Crazed Woman Carrying Own Feces vibe.
4) The Hand-Off. You hand your literal poop over to an overworked, under-appreciated, often-aggressive lab tech and watch while he/she pulls said poop out of its meticulously-constructed plastic bag carry container and holds it up for everyone’s viewing pleasure.
5) Replaying “The Hand-Off” in your head until you scream into a pillow and devour an entire plate of muffins.
Here are some helpful tips for your best chance at making it to Step 5:
DO tell your family that you are going to be in the bathroom for an extended period of time. And, if possible, tell them the reason for this stay. Otherwise, they will constantly ask you if you’ve “fallen in,” and, in the midst of Step 1 (The Existential Anxiety), this may seem like a loaded question (“Do you need a rope? Have you fallen’ in?” Kathy’s father laughs heartily at his own joke before taking a sip of his coffee. Behind the bathroom door, Kathy nods. “Yes,” She says, thinking only of the meaningless void of human existence. “I have fallen in.”
When embarking on Step 3 (The Transport) DO wear your bulkiest coat/carry multiple purses. While this won’t help you to suppress the ‘Crazed Woman Carrying Own Feces’ vibe, it WILL help you to block everyone’s view of said feces when the lab tech holds it up for the entire world to see during Step 4 (The Hand-Off).
Do NOT lean over the counter and whisper, “I’ve got… a sample” to the lab tech like you’re one of those people who whips open their trench coat to reveal a collection of stolen watches for sale. This helps no one.
Do NOT announce to the lab tech in an unusually loud and shrill voice that you are ‘doing this for a friend.’ This sounds weird. People will stare. (Also, everybody knows that this is not for a friend).
Do NOT fling the poop at the lab tech and run away. There is no circumstance during which this would be an effective strategy.
Remember: something about carrying around a vial of your own poop makes it very difficult to act like a normal human being. But, if you follow these guidelines, you just might make it through.